What were the political consequences of religious missionary work in the nineteenth century?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the missionary work that enveloped the world during the 19th century had a large political impact in setting the groundwork for imperialist claims around the world.  It is not entirely clear to assess if the missionary work was an extension of the political desires of the time period.  Yet, I think that the missionary work of the 19th century helped to establish the idea that there were people in different parts of the world, the political "other," who could be seen as objects to appropriate on the part of more economically and politically established nations.  The missionary work that was conceived in the idea of proselytizing others and converting indigenous into Christianity or other Western religions helped to establish the basic premise that nations that fell outside of the constructs of "the West" could be overtaken and controlled by more dominant powers.  Missionary work helped to make this reality something more understandable by those in the position of power.  It is in this light and to this end that I think one can see how missionary work possessed a great many political consequences in the time period.


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